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Mad Men



Episode 9 - The Beautiful Girls

6 March 2012

Mad Men - 409 - The Beautiful Girls

Another entertaining episode of Mad Men but this one didn't seem to hang together as well as the last few did.

I enjoyed the touches throughout reminding you that the writers are always thinking. The contradictions and the disagreements between characters caught my eye. Don won't hear a stuttering man get mocked but he will take money from racists. His subordinates respect and fear him as a boss but laugh about his disastrous relationships with his secretaries. Peggy points out that women are almost as oppressed as blacks in certain ways and Abe laughs at the thought. They are both accurate and inaccurate at the same time (a phrase you could perhaps apply to every human conversation). Don is a bad father by modern standards. He doesn't know how to deal with her, he won't communicate honestly with her and he ignores her (reading the newspaper instead of entertaining her). Even worse he turns to Faye for help despite the inappropriateness of the position he is putting her in. Finally the man who mugs Roger and Joan isn't just a disenfranchised ethnic minority taking back what society has failed to give him. He is also a jerk, needlessly shoulder barging Roger as he walks away, enjoying the power he has over them.  

Phew. So yeah, lots to enjoy. There were so many moments when I was reminded that Mad Men is so much better than the average TV show. However the stories themselves all had flaws which bugged me one way or another.

I felt the attempts at humour surrounding Miss Blankenship's death were misplaced. Particularly as they were followed by Roger and Bert's somber reflections on their own mortality.

Roger and Joan's story felt too straightforward and convenient. The two have great chemistry and this felt more like everyone getting to see what they wanted to without proper consequences. It's far from impossible to believe that Joan would have sex with Roger given the state of her marriage and her general loneliness. However it didn't strike me as something she was that tempted to do and to give in the middle of the street seemed odd as well. I think perhaps if this story had taken up more screen time I would have bought into it more. The fact that afterwards everything went back to normal underlined my feeling that it wasn't a convincing plot line.

It's tough to blame Sally, being such a young actress, but something about her performance also felt too straightforward. You knew what she wanted from Don and her two modes of behavior (over familiar or pleading) just didn't convince me of the sadness of her situation. The story itself did draw sympathy for her though as neither Don nor Betty want to raise her which is awful to watch.

Faye's story seemed to jump ahead several chapters and I wasn't sure what to make of it. We had the slow burn all season before last week they finally went on a date. Now suddenly they are having lunch time nookie and Don is treating her with the same thoughtlessness he has treated other women. I suppose that's a mark of the consistency with which he is written but it did feel like a waste of build up. We shall see where it goes though.



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  • I actually rather liked Sally's presence in this episode. Maybe I'm just used to AWFUL child actors, because I usually find myself thinking little Sally is fantastic in nearly every scene she's in. This storyline which has been building for a while with Sally acting out has been very interesting to me, and I enjoy seeing the dynamic between her and Don. She is very clearly Daddy's little girl...and at the very least she wants to be.

    Posted by Brando, 09/12/2010 3:14pm (10 years ago)

  • Thank you again for these reviews. I thought the art direction in this eisode saved it from some weak writing. Madmen rarely puts speeches in character's mouths but this episode had several and all of them felt odd --as if I was watching a different show. Even Mrs. Blakenship's last words were a cynical comment that seems out of character and too bold for the office environment of the period.

    But the last few moments framing the three women, Joan, Peggy and Faye in their high heels gleeming on the reflective floor and their awkward, isolate silence in the elevator spoke volumes. I felt so fortunate to be younger than Sally and able to grow up in an America with a broader range of options for women.
    As for Sally, I thought her rudeness was interesting. She seems to be echoing her mother's harshness but also really behaving in an bold way for the time. We are just a few short years away from the summer of love and the explosion of student unrest. Sally will probably be "dropping out and turning on."

    Posted by Lenni, 30/09/2010 3:40am (10 years ago)

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